3 Signs It Might be Time for an Oil Change
Probably the most basic and routine maintenance you can perform on a car or truck would be to change the oil. Taking the vehicle in for a standard oil change comes with little cost and a minimal time investment. Many local oil change shops can do the job in 15 minutes. Drivers are “in and out” with no hassle.
Not changing the oil on a car, however, comes with massive hassles. You could utterly and totally ruin your car if the vehicle goes to long without an oil change. Bizarre stories do exist about people who never once changed the oil in their cars. Years went by and the original oil stayed in place until it became nothing more than clumpy sludge.
In time, not changing the oil can lead to an engine being destroyed. Oil lubricates the parts in an engine. If the parts aren’t lubricated, they wear out. “Wear out” is a nice way of saying “ruined.” A ruined engine can’t be fixed. The car ends up totaled. Such disasters are avoidable. Again, all you have to do is change the oil.
When do you change the oil? Not every car owner knows when it is a good idea to make a change. In general, there are three definitive signs that the oil in a car should be changed and done so right away.
1. The color of the oil darkens.
Fresh engine oil has an amber color to it. Amber presents a yellow-orange-gold color. Checking the color of the oil by rubbing the dipstick off on a white napkin gives you a clear idea of how fresh the oil is. Over time, the color changes as the oil changes from use. In order to lubricate an engine, the oil must circulate through all the various parts. The effect on the oil’s color becomes hard to miss. All the dirt and impurities in the engine rub off on the oil. The color starts to change as a result. Specifically, the color darkens.
Once the color takes on a black color, the oil is well past the due date for a change. The oil may be sludgy at this point as well, which is another indicator the oil should be changed without delay.
2. The maximum mileage has been reached.
An oil change commonly is good for 3,000 miles. When you get your oil change, the mechanic may provide a sticker on the inside of your windshield that logs the odometer reading when the oil was changed and at what mileage a new change becomes due. Once the recommended mileage mark has been reached, the oil has probably been filled with a significant amount of impurities. The presence of diminished viscosity can’t be ignored. In short, once the recommended mileage point arrives, the old oil won’t be performing at the necessary level to protect the engine.
Those who don’t drive their car very often shouldn’t assume they can keep aged oil in the car for months and months, though. After about six months, changing the oil would be a good idea. Oil breaks down with age even when not used. That means the oil won’t be performing its job efficiently leaving the engine at risk.
3. An odd smell emanates from the engine.
Truth be told, many different problems could be the root of a change smell coming from the engine. Bringing the vehicle to a garage without delay might be the best thing to do. A dangerous condition could be present depending on the reason for the problematic scent.
The harsh smell of burnt oil may indicate the oil is incredibly dirty. The smell might also reveal an oil leak is present, which could be even worse. Again, if something literally doesn’t smell right, the vehicle could be unsafe to drive. Have a mechanic check the vehicle out.
If you haven’t changed your oil in a long time, you may wish to bring the vehicle in for an engine cleaning. The engine could be loaded with a lot of sludge, which isn’t exactly beneficial to the operation of the car. A professional engine cleaning may be able to get rid of the sludge buildup. Often, these cleanings aren’t very expensive and don’t require a lot of work.